Wednesday, August 24, 2022

The Soma Gullwing Bar: The Answer to One of the Most Asked Questions on Bike Forums

There are inventions from the 20th century that - when you first look at them - you aren't sure whether they are super cool or a little wacky. The "gullwing" feature on 1950's era Mercedes 300SL is one of those inventions. Of course some of these 300SL's go for over a million dollars to collectors and then there is the Delorean and the new Tesla, so maybe cool has won out.

The Soma Gullwing Bar is definitely going to get second glances like those vintage Mercedes, because of its unusual look and questionable purpose. It is essentially a flat bar designed to allow you to run drop bar STI levers. 

Bike forums are full of threads asking how to run road "brifters" on flat, riser, moustache and pursuit bars and full of threads where valiant cyclists have tried, but the results were usually between "less than ideal" and "more than a little entertaining". So we kind of knew what we were getting into releasing this in the States.
This bar was actually designed by our Japanese distributor and they asked us whether we would like to sell it here. (They also designed our 1st gen Condor Bar)

It does address the bar diameter needed to install a brifter and adds a bend so the lever doesn't bottom out against the bar. And it looks kind of sleek if you forget that the levers are oriented not the usual way, especially on current STI's.

The bar has a 30mm rise and comfortable 25ยช back sweep. Harder to see in photos is the 7° drop at the grips which suits a semi-aggressive ride position and puts your wrists in a better angle to operate the levers. 

The brake lever hoods can be used as a secondary place to rest your hands and to get more aero. Hood position feels similar to a 38cm road bar, which is fine, since this is not meant to be the primary hand position. It's more of a position to get a little aero.

Grip section is 22.2mm OD, so you can either run MTB grips or bar tape.

Straight section near the clamp is 110mm wide, which gives some room for accessories or possibly aero bars.

Lastly how comfortable it is depends on how high your stem is already and how close the bars are. The levers would normally be mounted at a flat angle, so for your fingers to activate the shift paddles it is best if your forearms are at nearly parallel angle to the levers (zero to 20 degrees). Any higher an angle and some of you may experience tension in arms or fingers over time. Get the set-up right and you should get more braking leverage than you get from braking from the hoods on your drop bar.

If you are moving away from your drops primarily to sit more upright, you may still want to add a stem with rise. (The Gullwing has a 30mm rise, but that isn't a ton) 

BUT if your goal is to add steering control and stability to your gravel bike that you sometimes ride singletrack with, the Gull Wing could be the perfect choice, if you don't want to buy new flat bar shifters.

Designed in Japan by Tokyo San Esu.

• Width: 620mm
• Center: 31.8mm OD
• Material: 6061-T6 Aluminum
• Rise: 30mm (with 7° down slope at grips)
• Backsweep: 25°
• Grip OD: 22.2mm
• Lever mounting area OD: 23.8mm
• Weight: 290g

*** Not feasible to use with Campagnolo Ergo levers, L-Twoo, or other models where one of the shifters is on the inboard side of the lever.

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